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Assertion of scientifically unfounded beliefs by other atheists and/or agnostics

Alright, I'm not going to beat around the bush on this one: there is often an air of elitism and/or moral/intellectual superiority the permeates a lot of secularist groups.

I see a lot of people who use their secularism as a way to give credence to their claims (not saying this is a problem here, I'm stalking about the community as a whole), and while that in and of itself is a bit of a leap in logic (saying something as a secularist doesn't automatically make the thing you're saying true, nor is every scientific study you find, relevant), I often see that many of the claims made by these same people are either incorrect, or out of date, and they aggressively argue in favor of maintaining that opinion (especially with things regarding mental health, e.g: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, PTSD, etc.).

So my question is: how do you all deal with this? I know this is a facet of just...people in general - no one likes changing their system of thought or admitting they're wrong, but there is a particular gusto with which certain secularists approach having their opinions called into question, often using their secularism and "critical thinking abilities" as a defense, and it can get quite aggravating.

Pineapple-Pizza 4 Dec 18

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Solution: Read. A lot.

Gyanez Level 5 July 13, 2018
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Yeah, part of human nature, for sure. I will usually point out information that I think is incorrect. I can certainly see a situation where someone repeats information that is out of date and could easily have done so myself. Once you learn about something, you may not ever revisit the topic unless it is something that has continued interest for you. Of course if you are not interested in something enough to keep up with the current knowledge, it is best to not to go around talking like you are knowledgeable. I definitely have no problem saying I don't know, or that I was wrong. Actually I have almost a pathological need to correct myself if I feel I have passed along incorrect information.

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I've previously posted my solution to this problem as a mantra:


When I think something is right, I look for ways that it might be wrong.
When I think something is wrong, I look for ways that it might be right.


Applied to every field of human thought, philosophical, scientific, mathematical, or theological, this mantra keeps me "honest".

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Love this thread! Resonates with a major problem I have talking with atheists... and theists as well, but the expectation, right or wrong, is that they will be elitist and project moral superiority. I feel if atheism is to pretend to be a better path, then it needs to be better than theism and not replicate the very behaiviours that we dislike about them.

I'm fond of saying that irrationality in the face of little or no evidence is NOT the exclusive domain of the theist; that the atheist is just as prone to this, such as making claims on aliens or string theory or the beginning of the universe.

Likewise, I'm fond of saying that fanaticism is not the exclusive domain of the theist; the atheist is just as prone to this and even have a name for it "Scientism"

It doesn't help that role models like Dawkins say "it works, bitches" as if blind acceptance of science is how we should live.

As an agnostic, I see this more clearly than most perhaps because I'm not wed to either that atheistic or theistic worldview. And to me, that is the solution: to be agnostic, skeptical, doubting of any and all claims for which there is not overwhelmingly good evidence in support of and (here is the tricky bit) even casting doubt on those claims for which there IS good evidence in support for that evidence could be wrong or misinterpreted.

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I stand in opposition to scientifically unsound claims. Even if I'm the one who made them. I often reevaluate what I say or do.

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Examples, please. Define subject.

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One of my pet peeves is ANYONE who makes a claim on outdated information or simple misinformation. First, I tell the person that his/her information is not a fact. If they insist is is, I ask for reliable proof, and "I found on the internet" is not enough. I want to know where it was found and who made the claim and if the person is an expert in the field. I tell them that they need to back up the claim with hard evidence. If they tell me that I will have to disprove them, I explain that in a debate, the burden of the proof is on the person making the claim. If they get huffy, I ask, "Surely, you are acquainted with the 'rules' of formal debate?" If they can offer no stats or facts, I tell them to get back to me when they have the information and stop discussing the issue. I teach writing, and my students soon learn that EVERYTHING has to be documented via experts in the field.

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Almost all of us on this site have had to consciously examine our beliefs in terms of theism simply because we are challenging the dominant cultural norm. This is common for anyone or any group that is not part of any culture's norms. If you are an outsider or part of any disadvantaged group you have a much clearer picture of those who have an advantaged position in society. Just because we've developed critical thinking about theists doesn't mean we'll also use that skill to examine other aspects of our lives especially when that critical self-examination might expose something unsavory.

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last i understood it, secular is just the position of including all positions, it has nothing to do with critical thinking or being an atheist, or even a skeptic for that matter. so in my opinion you can be the most devout god believer and still be a secularist. you can be the most irrational person on earth, and still be secular.

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There is an important element of secularism currently being hijacked, and that is the continued search for answers. There are those who turn scientific facts in to faith facts. Theories change, studies change earlier facts, New finding expand our understandings. I believe all you can do is guide them to new facts…

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There are certain truths that one has to accept when getting into the skeptic thing. One is that some theories may change, or not be worth anything, or be blind alleys, and have to be abandoned. Great minds in history have learned this the hard way. Im not sure elitism is the right word for it. Im open minded, but I won't put up with spiritual bypassing bullshit about ghosts, ufos, demons, wizards, umber hulks without proof. The stuff with gmos, not going to the moon, the EARTH BEING FLAT, ill just never get on board with.

Well said. I can't keep discussing "spiritual" topics with believers - it's just too boring. "So you don't believe in god? But are you a spiritual person then?" Yikes, what does that even mean?

Glycophate is toxic. Monsato should not control so much of our food production. Please keep an open mind. I know links are a dime a dozen. Here is a good one.
[foodandwaterwatch.org]

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I simply ask them to cite current evidence from somewhere dependable. Until they can, their claims are suspect. They should understand that if they claim to believe in skepticism and logic.

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Its embarrassing isn't it? Secularists tend to have their own "religion"... often built on weird claims about the health benefits of cannabis (a cancer cure... really??) or the evils of GMOs or as you mentioned, their completely non-scientific takes on mental illness and appropriate treatment. But damn, there is a LOT more ability to accept reason, evidence, logic, etc. in this community. Less acceptance of magical thinking and white knuckle attachment to beliefs. I'm very happy this community exists!

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I do think in a group such as this, where a high percentage of people have decided they want to lead a life in accordance with evidence, more people will accept evidence that disagrees with their position if it's compelling and modify their previous position. Humans are still human, though, so it's not going to be 100% and people will still disagree over some things that they think are open to interpretation, but I think you'll see more flexibility in this regard here than you might on a forum for fundamentalist Christians who have a very rigid worldview and are not swayed by evidence from their faith-based beliefs.

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I think most people have come to see how stupid and illogical religion is and realize it's an easy target to point out the irrationality, but they don't know how to use the same logic on other subjects.

The one thing I've learned since becoming an atheist is there is no need to be ashamed in saying "I don't know". No matter what beliefs I hold, I will always admit that there is a chance, no matter how small that chance may be, that I can be wrong. That is true open-mindedness.

That brings me to one of my favorite quotes by Bertrand Russell.

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

I really like that quote-- I've used it many times, too.

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I think you'll probably see some elitism in any group, with the possible exception of a group exclusively consisting of people suffering from low self esteem. I think we see it a little in this group, though not terribly bad. You'll see a few "can you believe how stupid believers are" posts and comments. I think it's to be expected. Pretty much everyone here thinks we're right on the topic of God/gods — at least more correct than believers in faith-based claims — so it stands to reason that there would be some sense of superiority. Hop on a discussion elsewhere with mostly theists talking and you'll see a lot of "how stupid those people are who reject God" posts. It's unfortunate, but it's the way many humans are wired. I disagree with Richard Dawkins, for instance, that the way to get people to change their minds about believing in God is to belittle them (though it may work to some degree to keep people from believing in the first place, but I'm not convinced of that either). I just think it's true that we attract more flies with honey, so being nice is more likely to establish conversation and foster a social and political environment in which secular concerns are more readily addressed.

Except flies don't come to the honey to be friends, they come to devour it.

@Agnostic1 Haha, perhaps, but I don't take such aphorisms too literally. I think the principle holds: people are more receptive to your message if they don't feel attacked.

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Among every group there are aspiring elitists masquerading as more than they are. It is an unfortunate personality attribute in some people. And, yest, they exist on this site, too.

Absolutely, and maybe I am overestimating the elitism present in secular circles, in comparison to other groups, as I have never been deeply intrenched in any belief-based communities

Also it peeves me when I see members of my own community spreading potentially harmful information, and especially under the pretense that it is some sort of scientific fact

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@Pineapple-Pizza - Can you provide an example, please?

Hey! Will do in more detail in a bit - out with friends right now, but pretty much a friend of keeps intermittently posting things about how people can just "get over PTSD" because he is veteran and he doesn't have it, so he broadcasts to others that (essentially) "being strong and facing your problems and not being 'weak minded' (that's an actual quote)" is the way anyone can not have PTSD (heavily implying that if you do have PTSD, it's your fault, via the aforementioned list of 'solutions' he presented). When questioned, he also sites lack of reasonable thought as the cause of most mental illnesses, and he does not have this lack of reasonable thought because he is an atheist, and therefore anything I or anyone else says to the contrary, is a result of not being as logical or well studied as he is. (If this is unclear feel free to ask more questions, I understand if my wording doesn't end up making sense because as mentioned before I am preoccupied lol)

(As a single example of this occurring)

@Pineapple-Pizza - That's enough of an example. Obviously knows nothing about it and has no empathy. Avoid.

@Pineapple-Pizza I kept looking for the "wow" button a la Facebook. LOL Just...wow. What a douche canoe.

i work with ptsd patients. there would be trouble here. This person get into fights a lot?, Cause fights a lot?

@jwm03h Umm... they don't choose to keep replaying it over and over in their mind. It just happens and they can't stop it.

@jwm03h -- You may disagree with @bingst all you want, but you are so very wrong in your statement that it hurts. I wish it were true because so many could be saved from so much pain and loss, but it just isn't so.

What we are dealing with here is subconscious and most frequently outside the sufferer's control until they get some professional help. You might find this article of some interest:

[ptsd.va.gov]

@jwm03h It sounds as though the only way you'll accept that it isn't a choice is to go through something like it yourself. While I want you to accept and understand, I actually hope you don't have to go through a similar mental illness.

@jwm03h PTSD aside...you've never met a person with real OCD before, have you? Or schizophrenia? There are myriad mental illnesses that by definition make people not have control over their own thoughts. I'm glad you have never experienced this personally, but I hope you have some compassion for those who do, because they DESPERATELY want to have the control you speak of.

@jwm03h you seem to have a very narrow view of this.
As a metaphor, in 1999 I broke my collar bone. It's a common fracture. Maybe you know someone who has also. Unlike other bones it cannot be set. One just immobilizes it as much as possible while it heals. And it always looks like a bone sticking up on one's collar. It slowly smooths out some, and I've heard it is stronger with all the calcium deposited, but it will show forever. See?

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If your argument is that theism is based on belief which is not supported by evidence, then you have to accept that if your own statements are not based on evidence you should get called out on it.

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I think we must love the truth. You know, reality. We don't have to be total assholes to do that though.

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